The new literary review Pacifica has been available on the internet since September, but they debuted the hard copy of the journal on Monday. The volume is as lovely as its release event in the Pine Box's covered patio area, where guests sat drinking beer at long wooden tables, eyes to the front, like some mead hall out of Beowulf. Except with space heaters, and a lot more neckties per capita.
“It's nice to provide new content faster, but you've got to hold it, got to handle it,” said Matt Muth, Pacifica's creator, on their decision to publish both printed and online content. Muth, and most of his editorial board, are graduates of the University of Washington's Creative Writing program, and they're working to create a synthetic space where the university community, the broader Seattle literary community, and writers nationally can convene. Muth said of the vision for Pacifica's content, “I just want to print the best stuff we can get our hands on,” including material from the east coast and the Southwest, but with plenty of local names, both known and new.
Despite some of the worst stage banter I've ever heard, the reading finished strong with Leena Joshi, an emerging talent with writing that is both vulnerable and bold, and Sarah Kathryn Moore, locally infamous for her gorgeous and measured verse. (Note: I know both of them personally from UW, but their talent was obvious to even completely unbiased observers, one of whom pointed at Joshi and said, “That one was good, the young one, very fresh.”) The poem of Joshi's included in this issue, “Arse Poetica,” really captures the zeitgeist of Seattle's underemployed, overeducated 20-something, and is worth a trip to the website or to Open Books. A highlight:
Late at night when I think about what I’m doing with my self
and my bacterial word infection and I have friends with jobs
at some big company – which I would like to take the time now to say
I’m smart enough and could do that too and better, probably –
all I feel in the dark is a chattering of grins and teeth, and I try to laugh
back at them, like a homeless insolvent would laugh at me.
Sarah Kathryn Moore read a series of what she called “ugly poems,” which were disappointingly un-ugly, including a poem stemming from her obsession with the letter V, which wasn't (thankfully) as painfully alliterative as you'd expect. Moore's writing is so well-sculpted she can't even fall into the traps she sets for herself. There were also readings by Lisa Nicholas-Ristcher, Maggie MK Hess (perhaps the crowd favorite), and Joannie Stangeland. And at the end of the night, one of the poetry editors put on R Kelly and everyone got their mingle on. “I told Sam [Mouser] to take the situation and turn it loose,” said Muth, making the final poem of the night the remix to Ignition.